Santa Vs. Unicorn | Pipeworks Brewing Company

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88
very good
41 Reviews
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Santa Vs. UnicornSanta Vs. Unicorn
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Pipeworks Brewing Company
Illinois, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Father Christmas, Head Beardo, St. Nicholas Cage, a man of many names he may be, yet he has but one true foe... This Holiday Season, the Unicorn is back bearing his mantle of rainbowed chaos, and this time, it’s seasonal bitches. An Imperial Red Ale, American Style Barleywine or Red Double IPA call it what you will, grab one and get your Jollies while the holiday fight is on...

Added by emerge077 on 12-15-2012

BEER STATS
Reviews:
41
Ratings:
243
Avg:
3.96
pDev:
25%
 
 
Wants:
47
Gots:
49
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 243
Photo of tigg924
3.86/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear, bright reddish-brown in color with 1/3 inch head. Taste is caramel, toffee, grapefruit rind, and piney hops. Bitter, but not overly so. Sticky heavy body. I like other American barleywines more, but this is very tasty.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.06/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ringing in the holiday season, Pipework's does Christmas without the threat of added spice which plagues most of the genre. Instead, the toasty, hoppy flavors that greet the palate are caught right smack-dab between American barleywine and imperial IPA.

Deep amber in color, the ale's rusty presentation is capped with a rich ecru lather. Billowing scents of citrus and pine mingle upward to the nose while its initial taste is boldly caramelized with seared toffee, bread crust and an overall nutty character.

Underneath it all, its bready-sweet maltiness lays a malty foundation with toasted sweetness, peanut skins and savory grilled bread. As its honey-like taste drifts, the hops waltz in, bringing their sharp grapefruit and orange-laced citrusy power and its gripping bitter pine resins to finish.

Lightening its body just enough to suggest the dryness of imperial IPA, the medium-full ale is malty-dry on the late palate with simmering bitterness of dried citrus peel and torn pine needles for a Christmas ale that's off the beaten spicy path.

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Photo of Beaver13
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Pours hazy copper brown with a medium creamy light tan head that retains well and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is sweet caramel malts with fruity resiny hops and some alcohol and nuttiness.

The flavor is sweet caramel malts with fruity resiny hops and some sharp alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, nice balance of malt and fruity resiny hops. A bit sharp on the alcohol.

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Photo of Atlas1
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This bomber was a gift from my sister and her husband for Xmas. Thanks, guys. We don't get Pipeworks in TX so this is a treat.

Pours a beautiful light mahogany color with hues of golden amber and copper mixed in. The perfect color of fall. If Autumn was a beer, it would look like this. Two finger head leaves good lace. The nose is dense. Notes of herbal pine, cherry, fig, various spices. Nice enough, but not astounding. The taste is quite nice. High ABV beers are often too boozy in flavor, but this one is able to mask the alcohol content fairly well. Not completely, but well enough. Flavors of dark fruit, pine, mild citrus, apples. Finishes nice and hoppy. Mouthfeel is firm and slightly chewy.

I like this beer. A good holiday brew for sure. It has a ridiculous name and label, but I can appreciate that. So glad I got to try this one. Merry Christmas indeed.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.59/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Bottle into tulip:

HEAD: 3 inches wide. Off-white colour.

BODY: Glowing amber. Nontransparent. No yeast is visible within.

Looks decent for a barleywine.

AROMA: Heavily hopped. Amber malts, bready malts, grapefruit, bitter rind, and light pine.

Aromatic intensity is above average.

Suggests an overhopped barleywine with no unique or special features.

TASTE: Candi, caramel, amber malts, bitter melon rind, grapefruit bite, floral notes, and pale malts. Imbalanced. Subpar build.

Not gestalt, nor very cohesive.

Its low quality and relative simplicity renders it difficult to elaborate on.

TEXTURE: Irritatingly coarse, medium to full-bodied, thick, and unrefreshing. Poor execution. Overcarbonated.

OVERALL: A disappointment coming from the well regarded Pipeworks Brewing. Not strong work, nor is it noteworthy. I'd caution against buying it.

C-

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Photo of novamat
4.61/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer is criminally underrated (as of the date of this review). Bottled and bought within the last 30 days. Hop forward in the aroma and palette with very interesting notes, which altogether provide a very well balanced beer. Probably not a traditional barleywine in the strictest sense, but goddamn is this drinkable. Will definitely buy again.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle. Pours a dark brown color with very little head. Lots of lacing. The aroma is really hoppy, surprisingly. Lots of sweet citrus and pine. Caramel malts and sweet grapefruit. The taste is lots of caramel malts and piney hops. Earthy and sweet. Bread crust with piney and citrus hops. Dry mouthfeel with a medium amount of carbonation. This one tastes almost like a blend of an Imperial Red and a Barleywine. Weird beer, but I really dig it. Overall, I'd like to try this with some age on it but I think it'd work best fresh since it's so hoppy.

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Photo of mschrei
4.48/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Pipeworks NvU snifter. Dirty brown, big time sediment. Get the usual Pipeworks ale smell and base taste, but much more malt than hop. Slight spice, full mouth tang,
Tasty beer.

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Photo of Billolick
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle, w/o freshness/vintage/bottling date info to be had...

Pours murky darker amber, limited cap, leaves a fine film, thin colar and minor fine lacing.

Caramel malted up nose

More caramel, toffee, malty goodness, some smoke and quite a dry hoppy finish....thick, richly flavorful and well worth a try. Quality winter night capper

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Photo of ArrogantB
2.86/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle, I think it was $8.99. I have enjoyed the pipeworks beers I've had thus far and this was the first to disappoint. Dark red, not much head. Aroma was malty, hoppy, ok. Flavor had a slight tinge of buttered popcorn that bothered me enough that it distracted me from the rest of the beer. I would nto buy this one again.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.99/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy mahogany in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and moderate ruby red + cola brown highlights. The beer has a two finger tall sudsy foamy tan head that reduces to a large patch of thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of citrus/grapefruit and pine hops with slightly lighter aromas of caramel + toasted malts.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of toasted + caramel malts with a light to moderate amount of caramel sweetness. That is followed by moderate to strong flavors of citrus/grapefruit and pine hops which impart a moderate amount of lingering bitterness.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Hints of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: I might classify this as a Hoppy Imperial Red IPA than an American Barleywine but it definitely has a very enjoyable hop aroma and flavor and lacks the cloying sweetness I associate with barleywines. Enjoyable and easy to drink with well hidden alcohol.

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Photo of metter98
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy very dark amber in color (dark brown when viewed from afar). It poured with a short beige colored head that consistently remained on the surface.
S: Light to moderate aromas of piney hops are present in the nose along with notes of caramel malts.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of pine resin hops along with notes of caramel malts and toffee. The hops lend a moderate amount of bitterness. No alcohol is perceptible.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The alcohol lends some warming to the back end of the mouthfeel.
O: This beer is quite hoppy for a barleywine, and the bitterness really cuts through the underlying malts, masking any sweetness in the taste and stickiness in the mouthfeel.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a rich, dark red with a thin, white head. No carbonation that can be seen. Just a generally sweet malt smell. A wonderful malt taste with toffee, carmel and malt notes in which the hop shows up in the end. An extremely smooth drinker. This is a wonderful hoppy barleywine. Pipeworks, you keep winning me over and look forward toward paying you a visit shortly.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.74/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

a good one from pipeworks. huge barleywine here, very american in nature, almost drinks more like a red double ipa, as there is quite a bit of amber malt sweetness running through it, and then a huge dose of bittering hops that come on all at the end. it looks amazing in the glass from the tap, shiny amber color, elegant creamy white head an inch high on top, and holding on for a long time for the style. smells like booze, almost hot and harsh on the nose, but once i get past that, i get citrus from the hops, grass too, and then a bunch of layers of sweet grain that lead the way in terms of flavor. caramel and nut brittle and toffee and butterscotch and bran muffins and molasses and honey all seem to be in there, a really really cool malt flavor to this. i dont know why i expected it to be spiced, maybe the santa thing, but it isnt, and i almost miss it there in the middle. a little ginger and orange peel or something would add depth and seasonal appeal, but instead its all hops. those work too, but they are pretty bitter, and with all the alcohol bursting out of this one, its an awfully intense drink all up. it was a trudge though even a small pour, and it gets tougher and tougher as it warms up. super alcoholic, but tasty and layered, and worth trying this season.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.09/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on 2015-02-01 in Columbia, PA. Batch 567-568 (gifted for Christmas, 2014).

A - Lightly hazy, medium ruby-brown with a 1/2-finger tan head that fades quickly leaving mild lace.

S - Lightly roasted grain, hop spice and floral/perfume (like a bath soap). Mild-moderate intensity.

T - Mmmm. Rich flavors of caramel, toffee, dark bread, pine, woody, citrus flesh and earthy spice. Finishes with caramel/grain sweetness and a good bit of pine and citrus zest bitterness. Good balance and surprisingly dry, which encourages the next sip. Very tasty.

M - Medium-heavy body and light-medium carbonation. Thick, syrupy feel, which I quite like.

O - A really good barley wine; definitely leaning to a West Coast style (Sierra Nevada Bigfoot) but with its own spice/pine twist. Nice.

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Photo of rlee1390
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Clear deep amber orange, one finger head.

S-Caramel, toffee, almonds? vanilla, rather sweet, some hops.

T-Rather sweet, vanilla, caramel, toffee, dirt, mild hop notes.

M-Medium bodied with some carbonation.

O-A decent American Barleywine, that could come together a little more.

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Photo of kkleu357
3.84/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big grainy smell. Some fruit notes. Hazy red body. Lots of sweet fruit tastes. Little too much alcohol taste to be great. Did get better as the beer warmed up.

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Photo of Sparty1224
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter. Batch 567-8, no date on the website yet, though very fresh.

A: Pours a dark, murky red. Small, cream colored head lingers around the glass.

S: Lots of hops. Pineapple, mango, tangerine. Definitely smells more DIPA than barleywine.

T: Big aggressive hops and tropical fruits up front. Pineapple, tangerine. Finish is rather malty and smooth. Lots of sweet bread notes.

M: Big, full mouthfeel. Sticks to the tongue.

O: So the description text on the bottle nails it, talking about how this could be a DIPA, double red, or American-style BW. Either way, this is big, true to PW style. Very reminiscent of Sam vs. Unicorn (same beer?). I like this quite a bit. Very hoppy and fresh, but not a bruising aftertaste. Goes down very smooth for a 10% beer. Nicely balanced. One of the better PW offerings, and surely one of my favorite seasonals from them. Happy Holidays!

Recommendation: Worth seeking out for the casual PW fan.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle opened on 1.27.14
Batch # 266 67 68 69

A - Pours a very dark amber red with a pretty bubble tan head that just sits atop.

S - Hoppy pine and citrus.

T - Hoppy pine and citrus, then a bitter sweet malt backbone.

D - Good carbonation with a nice medium body.

O - Hop forward with a big barley wine background. Decent.

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Photo of MaximalC
3.59/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours the color of maple syrup with ruby highlights and a frothy cap of lemon meringue foam. The aroma is hop-forward, with plenty of grapefruit and pine and not much else.

The taste follows the nose, with IPA caliber hoppage including pine resin and grapefruit. Thankfully there is also a healthy dose of sweetness to balance, featuring maple syrup and brown sugar. Vague suggestions of milk chocolate emerge sporadically. The full depth of the malt isn't really appreciable until the finish, once the hop bombardment has subsided. The lingering, delicate, warming finish is the highlight of this beer for me. The body is medium and the mouthfeel is smooth and slick. Residual stickiness lingers on the lips after each sip.

Overall, this is a visually appealing, bold, hopcentric brew. The bitterness is too one-sided for my tastes, but it's not a bad offering if that's your cup of tea.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.31/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours brown in color with a thin deep tan head that retains nicely.

Smell is good there is a big amount of sweet toffee and rich malt aroma on the front end along with some dark fruit aromas of dates and fig. Butterscotch yeast aroma works well to blend the super sweet malt and fruit aroma.

Taste is good. There is a big malty sweetness accompanied by a semi sharp husky flavor and moderate bitterness. More faint flavors of dark fruit are near the end.

Mouthfeel is good. Thick, sticky , sweet, slightly dry and bitter. Big feel for a big beer

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. Batch #266 67 68 69 printed on the label, this is the 2013 release of this beer. I had it last year, but this is the first time I've had the entire bomber to myself. Definitely glad to see that this seasonal release from Pipeworks is back.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a deep dark ruddy mahogany / caramel colored body with just over a finger of fluffy creamy tan foam for a head.

S - Smell is big, beautiful, and hoppy. Citrus, pine needles, amber malt, brown bread, and that creaminess that I seem to pick up on in a lot of Pipeworks beers.

T - Taste follows the nose: big juicy citric grapefruit hops, pine needles, lemon, green apples, and then comes the caramel malt, cream, mild peppery rye, dirty herbal earthiness, and some alcohol warmth.

M - Feel is smooth and creamy, with a dry bitter hoppy finish. Sticky grapefruit, pine, and green apple lingering all over the place with this beast. Full bodied with perfect carbonation.

Overall, a wonderful winter seasonal from Pipeworks; I will definitely continue to look forward to this beer every year. Supremely drinkable for being a 10.00% abv beer. Highly recommended.

Pipeworks Santa Vs. Unicorn ---4/5.

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Photo of vic21234
3.74/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. Batch number reads 266 67 68 69.

A- Pours a cloudy mahogany color with a half finger worth of khaki head which fades to some lacy froth along the sides of the glass.

S- Sweet malts and citrus hops on the aroma. Much more of a citrus aroma than any other barleywine I've ever had.

T- Sweet caramel malt up front before the strong hop hit. This beer has notes of citrus but mostly a piney resin in terms of the bittering hops.

M- Hoppy, bitter with a dry finish, medium bodied, alcohol is only slightly noticed at 10% ABV.

A nice beer, but I wouldn't really call it a barleywine. This one drinks much more like an imperial red or DIPA, as the blurb on the bottle suggests. It also says "cellar worthy," but I'd go for this one fresh due to the heavy hop character.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
2.79/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Copper body. A bit of haze. Nice collar and surface foam.

Smell - Lots of grapefruit and lemon hops. A little bit of chemical. Strong malt. Strong caramel malt presence.

Taste - Hoppy. Grapefruit. A ton of malt. Kinda tastes like an old double IPA. Eh. Bitter finish with lingering citrus hop.

Mouthfeel - Well carbonated. Bitter finish.

Overall - I'm so unenthused by this. Old IPA is a snifter an apt description.

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Photo of Hugonaut13
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into snifter

A - Pours a thick reddish brown with a light tan head. Lacing is very sticky and the head hands around for a bit.

S - hops and toffee. LOTS of hops and toffee. The smell is definitely telling you what's next.

T - Starts off with some sweet caramel malt, but the sweetness is definitely subdued. That blends well with the piney hops that comes in the back. The sweet malt and hops definitely play well together here, with neither overpowering the other.

M - Great creaminess and good carbonation. The 10% is apparent but not overwhelming.

O - Good example of an american barleywine and a great first crack at it by Pipeworks. I look forward to seeing what they do with this next year.

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Santa Vs. Unicorn from Pipeworks Brewing Company
3.96 out of 5 based on 243 ratings.
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